With the 2018 Olympics entering the second week, I’ve been reflecting on the number of “out” LGBT Athletes competing in the games. This year 15 “out” athletes are participating in the Winter Games, beating the record of 7 in Sochi in 2014 and this year some of those 15 are men. Standing out (no pun intended) is Figure Skater Adam Rippon.
Adam’s skating has come second to his openness about being a gay athlete and what that means and doesn’t mean. According to the Olympic Creed “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part,” the Olympic Creed reads, “just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” Few have been the personification of that Olympic Creed quite like Rippon.
Other LGBTQ+ Olympic Athletes have made an impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ people at home. Skier Gus Kenworthy, who participated in Sochi in the closet, is out this year, and kissed his boyfriend on National TV after his qualifying slopestyle free skiing run. Gus said, ““To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible. The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation. That’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics. I think if I had, it would’ve made it easier for me.”
These Olympians are not only exemplary athletes, but wonderful examples to the thousands of LGBTQ+ youth that aspire to compete at the Olympics. These athletes are breaking stereotypes and paving the way for the future Adam Rippon’s of the world. Congratulations to all the athletes on a wonderful Olympic games.